Still waiting for Firefox 4.1? Too late, Firefox 5 is already here!

Mozilla Foundation releases Firefox 5 three months after the release of Firefox 4, but is the upgrade worth it?

Mozilla, the creators of the revolution against Microsoft Internet Explorer, (please don’t tell me you’re still using the crud of a thing) released the next version of the Firefox web-browser this week: Firefox 5. For those of you who are using Firefox 3.x, you’ll find this as a massive upgrade, and a very awesome one indeed. The design is much slimmer, the menu bar is gone in favour of a chrome like “Give the web-page more screen realestate” approach. But if you’re upgrading from Firefox 4… well let’s just say I haven’t found any new features of Firefox 5 yet that I’ve used, let alone noticed.

Back in the day, new version numbers meant something. The minor bug fixes didn’t mean a product went from version 1 to version 2, no, it was more like v1.0.1. And if there were new features added in, but it wasn’t really a major upgeade to the product, then you’d get v1.1. Firefox 5, in my opinion, is more like a 4.1. But why has Mozilla taken this approach? The answer is Google Chrome.

Now before I go ahead and put my sinical hat on (perhaps it’s too late for that), I have to applaud Firefox for changing their internal processes, to have a new release verison out and stable within 3 months. Well done. But we need to get a few things in order first. Yes, you’ve done what you planned to do. But you’ve released a brand new verison of your software, which is really no different to the previous version, and yet it’s a major milestone? I don’t think so.

Recently at the WWDC in the US, Apple announced the release and some of the features for its new operating system, iOS. The new version, iOS5, will be released in September 2011, and marks major improvements and features over iOS4, which is currently at version 4.3.3. Some of the new features Apple annoumced include  a whole new push notifications system, which will revolutionize notifications on a smart phone, (hey look over there, that Android phone has alrwady copied Apple. S Jobs better get his Tademark lawyers ready) a new reminders/task system, as well as other brand new features to the OS. Now comparing that to Firefox, in Firefox 4 we have pretty much exactly the same thing, except there’s not that many new features to get excited about. The look and feel of the browser is exactly the same. Infact, I’m at my home PC at the moment, and I couldn’t tell you if I’m using Firefox 4 or 5, because their identical.

Now the whole reason why Mozilla has done this is because they’ve changed their development process, so that they can keep up with their new competition Google Chrome. Now I’m not going to get in a debate about which one of those browsers is better. I love my Firefox for Firebug, and its new Sync feature (which was introduced in Firefox 4). Google Chrome has a new verison every 6 or so weeks. With that in mind, Mozilla has to keep their browser developed and innovative new features coming at consumers. But I think this war could become the war of the numbers. How fast can each browser release new versions. At this rate, I don’t want to celebrating Firefox 10 in 2012, and there to be little changes to the product (visually and internally).

Although I am very excited to hear Firefox will soon be able to support plugins written in Javascript! Now that sounds cool.

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